Each year, we scour the region to discover the finest handcrafted wares.
This is our definitive guide to the best of the North.
Each honoree must be
authentic (discovered in the North),
validated (meeting the highest standards) and
coveted (longed for and in demand).
WINNER | HOME
William & Marie Home + Furniture Design
Full-time designers Ben and Elissa Juhnke are confronted daily with conceptual, spatial and tangible decisions both at home and at work. He works for an engineering firm, she for a residential-architecture firm. One can imagine how the ideas flow from their vocations to their avocations and back again.
So it should come as no surprise that they created this remarkable In Plane fire pit. Its interlocking design is achieved through a series of notches that locks the steel pieces together without any welds or fasteners. Gravity assists in holding the triangular form in place; it in turn cradles firewood and allows for convection that fuels the flames upward while simultaneously letting ash fall away. Ease of assembly and the ability to pack the pieces flat make this fire pit ideal for backyard patios and campsites alike.
RUNNERS-UP | HOME
La Lune Collection
Created by husband-and-wife team Mario and Cathy Costantini, La Lune Collection’s rustic, ecofriendly furniture is handcrafted in Milwaukee. But its story extends far beyond Wisconsin’s borders. Mario, who immigrated from Argentina, had ambitions to return to his home country to become a doctor. While attending Marquette University, he met Cathy, and they decided to start a furniture business with little money or experience back in 1978. Mario still hand draws the designs to this day, focusing on a legacy look and a high level of craftsmanship.
Marnette R. Doyle Pottery
Marnette Doyle uses terms like bold, luxurious and sensuous to describe her work. We use the word lovely. Doyle threw her first pot at age 14 and has had a love for ceramics ever since. She draws inspiration from personal relationships, social experiences and even Minnesota winters. She especially loves the collaborative process with designers and friends in which the finished product is greater and more compelling than the sum of its parts. Doyle welcomes custom orders, whether a unique dinnerware collection or a conceptual or sculptural piece.
WINNER | STYLE
Padron Watch Company
Leo Padron stumbled into watchmaking after restoring his grandfather’s timepiece. Little did he know this would boom into an international business with celebrity clients.
The Venezuela native was working as a software designer and information architect when he decided to foray into watchmaking full time in 2012. He began restoring vintage mechanical timepieces, which inspired him to develop his own line. His first creation, the Padron Vuelta, was named most wanted by Wired magazine and is the first automatic watch in history to have come to fruition via crowdfunding.
Padron, who is the line’s sole designer and builder, places a strong emphasis on form and function. The stunning simplicity and exquisite lines of the Hennepin look great on the wrist of anyone who appreciates a unique, hand-built timepiece with a unique, hand-built story.
RUNNERS-UP | STYLE
Patrick Mohs Jewelry
Husband-and-wife duo Patrick Nelson and Mary Kay Mohs refer to the land of 10,000 lakes as their “10,000 design inspirations.” Fittingly, a trip to the North Shore prompted them to create this special piece of jewelry linking stars and skipping stones. The Night Sky necklace is reversible, with one side fully set with diamond constellations and the other with one diamond constellation, the Little Dipper. Featuring a total of 149 diamonds, it is composed of 17 individual 18-karat gold skipping stones, each representing a different constellation.
Natalie Morrow built her business around her philosophy that a woman should never leave accessories as an afterthought. She hand constructs her cozy, versatile scarf wraps from a nubby bouclé wool blend, cutting the fabric in long strips then meticulously fusing it together to form a modern stripe pattern. Morrow’s brand, Stansberry, is named in honor of her mother and grandmother, who taught her the value of handcrafted work made from high-quality materials.
WINNER | ADVENTURE
Kloppenborg Fly Studio
The craft of fly tying is equal parts artistry and historical accuracy. Today’s patterns draw their inspiration from the materials that were available to the millinery trade during the Victorian era. Though more practical, less complicated versions are now available, the tying of historical patterns has survived as a unique art form.
Although Neil Kloppenborg is modest when describing his creations, we can all agree that they are beautiful works. The Nepenthian is an excellent salmon fly from Major Traherne, considered one of the most innovative fly tiers of all time. Kloppenborg finds it the most challenging pattern — and the one he most wants to master. This tie is fastened onto a hook hand made by his friend, craftsman Matt Arciaga. Flies are shipped worldwide and can be made-to-order.
RUNNERS-UP | ADVENTURE
Moore’s Woodworking Studio
WEBSTER, SOUTH DAKOTA
Duck calls are very personal. Hunters look for a constant, lifelike sound and ease of operation. Woodworker and full-time farmer Craig Moore doesn’t call himself a musical engineer, but he does know that both the type of wood and the quality of reeds greatly impact the sound. He makes his calls one piece at a time with patience and painstaking accuracy. This finishing call, used to lure ducks to land, is crafted from East Indian rosewood and is hand polished to give it a natural shine.
LA CROSSE, WISCONSIN
The Pace series from Redfeather Snowshoes is especially suited for women. Its SV2 binding features a one-pull handle for easy adjustment, and the aircraft aluminum V-tail is designed for exceptional maneuverability. Add in the rip-stop vinyl deck, and there’s really nothing stopping you from heading out in any type of weather. “A lot of outdoorsy stuff happens” at Redfeather headquarters, including the manufacturing of all the company’s snowshoes — truly a rarity in the industry.
WINNER | FOOD + DRINK
Northstar Kombucha is the beautiful fusion of two people and two passions. Dan and Christina Fischer each bring a unique talent to the table. He has a food-science background and an interest in fermentation, while she has an eye for design and manages all visual aspects of the brand.
The kombucha’s tart flavor is fused with sweet juices and fragrant herbs. Every small batch is carefully brewed using organic ingredients, creating an effervescent drink that is low in sugar. It is then bottled in beautiful amber glass to protect the probiotics and preserve the organic ingredients. This careful attention to detail goes beyond science, yielding a concoction as delightful as the couple who crafted it.
RUNNERS-UP | FOOD + DRINK
100 Mile Sauce Co.
The secret to a great bloody mary mix? Knowing the farmers who produce its specialty ingredients, say 100 Mile Sauce Co. founders Jeff Cullen, Scott Kesling and Bobby Marshment-Howell. You won’t find any can openers in their production facility because all the veggies, from tomatoes to habaneros, come straight from the field. This makes for a bloody mary packed with flavor and worthy of a healthy pour of your favorite vodka or gin.
FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA
Distiller and founder Joel Kath’s award-winning spirits are crafted with pride from local ingredients like barley, corn and potatoes. One favorite, the limited-release Glen Fargo, comes from North Dakota’s first batch of single-malt whiskey produced since Prohibition. Another notable is the Minions Barreled Reserve, gin finished in previously used whiskey barrels. It has garnered gold medals at the Great American Spirits Festival and is perfectly suited in an old-fashioned or on the rocks with a simple twist of lemon.
Read this article as it appears in the magazine.